Thursday, February 2, 2012

Iannis Xenakis - Synaphai / Aroura / Antikhthon (Headline/Decca - Head 13)

Actually learning about the lives of artists can be quite enlightening when listening and trying to understand their works. Iannis Xenakis can be named as a primary example for this case. He is a well known contemporary classic music composer who has developed unique techniques while trying to create the sound textures of his desires. He has tried different kind of perspectives. It is now I can understand from where and how these techniques and perspectives were coming from.

Xenakis was primarily an architect. He fought during WWII only to be sentenced to death which has led him to escape prison and endure a long exile period in France. For over 15 years, he worked as an architect and cooperated in important projects. However, he was directed by his desires to move into music and this is the point where everything started to get interesting altogether.

Due to the naturalistic movement in architecture, he was applying natural textures in architecture and this was also his starting point. Textures are the first thing you hear and see and thus must be the most important aspects of perception. Xenakis was heavily involved in trying to create naturalistic textures in electronic and symphonic music with the help of pitch, rhythm, timbre alterations and repetitions. These repetitions can hardly be called a wink at minimalist classical music since the general structure of the compositions and the repetitivity of these repetitions are technically too different from that style.

This record includes three works of Xenakis from 3 close dated stages of his life where Xenakis was during his search for the self explaining textures in modern music. In Synaphai irregular repetitions coincide with the continuous vibration mainly arousing from the piano. Aroura is the more naturalistic of the three compositions and includes the sound textures of nature. Xenakis tries to envision fields, woods, the sea and other natural textures that can be seen via repetitions of certain notes and timbres. Considering the current level of textures which appear in modern compositions and works, these early sound forms are a joy to listen as they provide insiders information on how it all developed. Antikhton is the last composition which is actually composed for a ballet piece. Here Xenakis delves into the textures of space, earth, sun and the other planets while contemplating the whole universe. Space is also another sound form he uses in order to give the full meaning to the composition and this is another important aspect of the era Xenakis composed this piece.

We have seen similar compositions from the likes of John Cage and Toru Takemitsu. Interestingly even though we call all these compositions with easy tagging as experimental, yet actually they should have been called futuristic instead. Space was not something they were craving for. We need space now and these compositions are sketching out what we actually need from our lives today.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs
@ Music Stack
@ Ebay

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